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Blagdon Lake Birds

August 2020 News

Monday 31st August [Mainly sunny]

News of a visit between 1100-1300 hrs from Paul Williams today as follows: 1 Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, 1 Hobby Falco subbuteo, 1 Swift Apus apus, 1 Barn Owl Tyto alba, 2 Redshank Tringa totanus, 2 Greenshank Tringa nebularia, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, 1 Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos, 1 female Garganey Spatula querquedula, 14 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, 1 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea, and a Hare Lepus europaeus. Thanks for your news Paul and hope to see you next time you're around. Mark Hynam spent late afternoon and early evening at the lakeside and reported 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, circa 5 Wigeon Mareca penelope, and upped the earlier counts to 5 Great White Egrets, and 3 Garganey, while I added a Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata noted at Long Bay, and a Common Gull Larus canus at Wookey Point to the day list.


Sunday 30th August [Mainly sunny]

I didn't visit the lake today, but Andy Mears reported 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia and a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus. 

Mark, Daniel and I spent this evening and yesterday evening on our bat photography project at Litton reservoirs, but I didn't get any more worthwhile shots. We did have the upsetting and rather bizarre sight of an adult Collared Dove flying in over the lower lake and landing on the water, where it spent some time rowing itself around and around in circles trying to take off again, before eventually dying of exhaustion and drowning. Ten Greylag Geese flew over heading towards Chew Valley Lake just after sunset too.


Saturday 29th August [Sunny spells & dry]

At lunchtime there was little to see at the dam end, save for a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the wall, but there was a Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and Dunlin Calidris alpina at Peg's Point until a couple of walkers flushed everything! I counted 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and at Top End saw 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula, 2 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, 14 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis.


Friday 28th August [Showers]

It was an interesting morning, with 2 adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, where Mark also saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. At the Lodge we had another look at something we noticed last weekend; there were Hornets Vespa crabro flying to a Willow to either feed on sap or remove bark, we couldn't decide which. On some adjacent Sallow bushes there were large numbers of Wasps which, again, we couldn't really decide what they were up to. They seemed to be exploring more than attacking the trees themselves, perhaps looking for aphids or something? 

Moving on, we saw 2 juvenile Sparrowhawks Accipiter nisus at Long Bay pines (probably those raised in Lodge copse), and at Green Lawn I scoped the North Shore and picked out 3 more Common Sandpipers. When we got to Rainbow Point we could see a Redshank Tringa totanus, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta,  and 12 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus over at Rugmoor, and we totted up 8 Great White Egrets Ardea alba from the same spot. At Hellfire Corner, we noticed a Jersey Tiger Moth Euplagia quadripunctaria which seems to be quite widespread locally this year but, remarkably, is the first site record to my knowledge. At Top End hide we noted 4 Greenshanks Tringa nebularia, and a small number of Sand Martins Riparia riparia over the water, while over the trees there were a number of House Martins Delichon urbicum and a late Swift Apus apus. I spent some time looking around with my scope and picked out a sleeping Garganey Spatula querquedula on Wookey Point, and another we saw another 2 at Burmah Road. The short walk to the Ubley entrance gate and back produced a skulking Whitethroat Sylvia communis, and at Bell's Bush on the way back to the Lodge, we saw a female Kestrel Falco tinnunculus. In the evening I stopped by the Lodge and the Top End hide, where I saw 3 Garganey, one Greenshank and a Redshank. As I arrived at Top End all the gulls and wildfowl went up, but despite racing into the hide I didn't see what was responsible - perhaps the Osprey that had been at 'the other place' earlier? Meanwhile, Ken Hall sent me an email saying he'd seen 4 Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula and a Dunlin Calidris alpina at Rugmoor. He also watched 2 Great White Egrets climb high and leave to the south over the Mendips.


Hornet chewing Willow, The Lodge, 28th August 2020.Hornet chewing Willow, The Lodge, 28th August 2020.


Thursday 27th August [Lots of rain then brightening later]

A pretty horrible day in the main, and I wasn't able to go down to the lake until after tea. However, I did find a few new birds. There were 7 Great White Egrets Ardea alba again today, and I saw 5 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 3 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus, a Redshank Tringa totanus, and 9 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus.  I also saw a juvenile Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe in the usual spot on the eastern corner of Green Lawn on the wood pilings. There was quite a lot of water flowing into the lake but the level, although up slightly, hasn't been affected too much, so we can still hope for more waders dropping in during the migration period at present. Mark and I are going to meet for a look around tomorrow.


Wednesday 26th August [Still windy but easing. Sunny.]

I can't remember if it was Rob or Phil who, when looking towards Top End from Rainbow Point during the WeBS count, said "it looks like a wasteland." Well, if it looked like a wasteland on Monday, it looks like a desert now! There're very few wildfowl by comparison, and most of them have moved out of Top End. I suppose with the boats back out today, after being suspended during the stormy weather, some ducks may retreat to Top End, but to my mind, there are far fewer than there were on Monday. I was at the lake by 0800 hrs this morning, but there's very little to report. I saw a ringed Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus on Tiny's Shallow, yellow D:EK, that will have been ringed in the Severn Estuary, and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos at Top End. Aside from counting 8 Grey Herons Ardea cinerea, and 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, that's your lot for the early report! The evening report can add 2 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula on Tiny's Shallow, and a better count of 7 Great White Egrets Ardea alba.


Tuesday 25th August [Storm Francis - a wild day]

I made my first visit of the day at the crack of noon and found 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam, an adult winter Common Tern Sterna hirundo at the Lodge, where a familiar Herring Gull Larus argentatus, blue G:P (ringed July 2004, & first reported at the lake by me in 2011), was hanging out with lots of other large gulls. I spotted another passage Sand Martin Riparia riparia, 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and, at a virtually bird less Wookey Point, 2 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula. My second visit, in the evening, saw a Greenshank Tringa nebularia at Polish Water, a female Wigeon on Green Lawn Mareca penelope, and a Hobby Falco subbuteo over Wood Bay. Given the bird movement recorded at 'the other place' today, Blagdon was strangely quiet!

I have no decent bird images taken today, so here's another of our efforts taken at the weekend when trying to photograph Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii in flight feeding over the water.  


 Daubenton's Bat, Litton Reservoir, 23rd August 2020.Daubenton's Bat, Litton Reservoir, 23rd August 2020.


Monday 24th August [Sunny then showers]

Phil, Rob and I carried out the WeBS count this morning, and, of course, the 1378 Coots Fulica atra was the top species count, but we had decent numbers of some other species as well viz. 575 Mallards Anas platyrhynchos, 455 Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula, 281 Gadwall Mareca strepera, and 269 Teal Anas crecca. The Great White Egret Ardea alba count was up to 8, with 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 4 Garganey Spatula querquedula the pick of the rest, that also included an adult Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea, 7 Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 3 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, and an adult Dunlin Calidris alpina. I will put the WeBS counts page back on the website in a while and include the rest of today's count from a link.

In the evening, I counted 8 Ringed Plovers (7 adults and a juvenile) at the Lodge.

Over the weekend we attempted to photograph feeding Daubenton's Bats Myotis daubentonii at the request of Daniel Hargreaves. Mark and I had looked at a likely spot with Ken Anstey a week or two back and so we met up on Saturday and Sunday evenings to see what we could do with our combined camera equipment and Daniel's lighting rig. Well, I took over 1000 exposures on Saturday night without even getting a bat in frame! However, Daniel made some tweaks to the lighting rigs, and we moved one of them to a better location and bingo, we photographed some bats. I haven't had time to fully analyse the 870+ exposures I made last night, but I did get lucky with this image that shows a Daubenton's bat in continuous flight scooping a fly in its tail membrane and eating it on the wing.  The sequence is right to left of course. There were plenty of chironomid and other midges over the water, but I suspect that the main food item of these bats were the caddis flies that were dancing about in great numbers.


 Daubenton's Bat, Litton Reservoir, 23rd August 2020.Daubenton's Bat, Litton Reservoir, 23rd August 2020.


Sunday 23rd August [Showers]

Andy Mears reported 2 Garganey Spatula querquedula at Top End, and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus at the Lodge this morning.

I had time for a quick look in the evening on the way to a bat photo shoot (more about which later) and saw 3 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on Tiny's Shallow, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Sand Martin Riparia riparia,  and at Top End a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, a Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula and 5 Garganey. Tomorrow is WeBS count day.


Saturday 22nd August [Showers & breezy]

An afternoon look around turned up a juvenile Dunlin Calidris alpina and adult Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula on Tiny's Shallow, where the whole family of 2 adult and 2 Juvenile Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca appeared to be re-united again. I also noted another gull with a ring on Tiny's Shallow that looked like it might be one of Pete Rocks' birds. I saw 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and from the Top End hide 2, probably 3, Garganey Spatula querquedula and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. Most of the smaller ducks were over at Rugmoor, but I didn't have time to go and look through them, although I did count 12 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus there through the scope. Making my way back home, I came across Mark at Green Lawn watching a Turnstone Arenaria interpres he'd just found, so we spent some time photographing it and another Ringed Plover. 


 Turnstone, Green Lawn, 22nd August 2020.Turnstone, Green Lawn, 22nd August 2020.


Friday 21st August [A very mixed day with a strong wind]

I met Mark Hynam at the Lodge mid-morning, and we spent much of the day at the lake until dusk. We found 6 Garganey Spatula querquedula, with 5 at Top End and another immediately afterwards when we drove around to Rugmoor Gate. The supporting cast wasn't quite as exciting but was varied, and included 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca,  2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus,  an adult Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, a Little Egret Egretta garzetta, a female Wigeon Mareca penelope, a Hobby Falco subbuteo, 13 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, a ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus, and a mystery duck! During our day we also saw the splendid Hornet mimic hoverfly Volucella zonaria. 

At dusk we took a short walk between the hide and Top End gate with the bat detector to record Orthoptera (Bush-crickets & Grasshoppers) and recorded lots of Dark Bush-cricket Pholidoptera griseoaptera and a few Speckled Bush-crickets Leptophyes punctatissima stridulating despite the wet and windy conditions. These are common and were recorded along the hedge beside the road. Although the meadows have been hay cut now, I am planning to use the detector to find and record other species present e.g. I'd like to know how widespread the Coneheads and Roesel's Bush-cricket are.


Thursday 20th August 

I enjoyed a good walk this morning but the birdscape had changed considerably overnight. There was just a single adult Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula on Tiny's Shallow along with the 2 adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca and 10 Great Black-backed Gulls Larus marinus. At Green Lawn I found the first reported Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe of the year at the lake and counted 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba from Rainbow Point.  Also visible from Rainbow Point was a single Snipe Gallinago gallinago, 7 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus  and 2 Ravens Corvus corax on Rugmoor Point. There were 8, well-hidden, Ringed Plovers on Wookey Point, along with a Garganey Spatula querquedula, and I counted 26 Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis. Before I left, I saw a Hobby Falco subbuteo over Indian Country pines.


Wednesday 19th August [Pretty wet most of the day, although we had sunny spells during the afternoon.]

 I was busy most of the day today, but an evening visit was enlivened by 47 (20 juveniles) Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula running about on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge, with a single juvenile Dunlin Calidris alpina. Buoyed by the fall of plovers, I went to Top End hoping to find lots more waders, but there was just one 'Billy no-mates' juvenile Ringed Plover on Wookey Point where 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula were also feeding. I drove on around to Rugmoor, as the light was fading fast, and spotted 13 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 2 Snipe Gallinago gallinago before heading back to the Lodge to meet Mark who had arrived, only to find the plovers had all moved on! Angler Martin Cottis came in off a boat and asked what the flock of waders he'd seen earlier in the day at Top End was, so I told him they were probably the plovers, and he also mentioned having seen a Hobby Falco subbuteo during the day. Cheers Martin. I also saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam.

To give some context to the count of plovers, I saw 36 Ringed Plovers on Tiny's Shallow on 23rd Aug. 2010, and Sean Davies saw 47 in two groups on 23rd Aug. 2015, but I have a record of 80 on 29th Sept. 1973 and seem to remember there may have been another more recent large count that I haven't put into my database yet.


Tuesday 18th August [Mainly warm & sunny. Showers expected.]

I had a bizarre moment at the Lodge this morning when having spotted an adult Dunlin Calidris alpina , and probable juvenile, on Tiny's Shallow through my binoculars, I turned around and put my scope up then couldn't find them again anywhere on the lake! At Top End I found 3 Garganey Spatula querquedula among the increasing number of Teal Anas crecca that have been dropping in during the last couple of days. While I was in the hide Ken Hall rang me to tell me about seeing a Garganey and 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba (I only saw 4). Thanks Ken, I couldn't find the mystery Pintail-like duck unfortunately, but I'll have another look for it on my next visit. There were 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta at Top End too. Later, I experienced a second consecutive evening of getting drenched, but it was worth it, I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos on the dam!


Monday 17th August [Sunshine & showers]

I made two visits, late morning and evening, but after the 'excitement' of yesterday it was very quiet today. The 2 adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge (where did the 2 fledged juveniles go?), 4 Great White Egrets Ardea alba were at Orchard Bay, Paradise and Top End, and there was a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at the latter site too. The only sighting I was able to add in the evening was 10 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Tiny's, despite walking to Top End and back - I got drenched when the heavens opened halfway home!  I heard a curious call from the hide, before the rain started, that sounded like a 'r-repp' that was given every few seconds. It was moving quite quickly away from me, so I think it was a bird, but I didn't see it and only managed to get a faint recording. More research to do when I can find the time.


Sunday 16th August [Overcast, sun & a little rain.]

My visit this morning wasn't quite what I'd hoped for but, nevertheless, turned up an unseen Redshank Tringa totanus calling at the Lodge on arrival, plus 2 adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 14 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and 2 Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa at Rugmoor, 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, and 2 Hobbies Falco subbuteo and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta at Top End. Mark Hynam arrived later in the afternoon and found a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (our second of the autumn), an adult Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, and the Wigeon Mareca penelope at Top End, plus a Snipe Gallinago gallinago at Rugmoor. I joined him early evening, and I too eventually connected with the Wood Sandpiper after it had been flushed by a falcon while I was on my way to the lake. While we were watching the Wood Sand at Burmah Road from Rainbow Point, 2 Brown Hares Lepus europaeus appeared on the foreshore at Wood Bay Point. Oh, how I wished I'd had my camera with me!

At dusk, Ken and Mark videoed the two hibernation bat boxes that we've been monitoring for several summers now, and not one bat emerged this evening, so we're assuming they've all dispersed, and we can recover the data loggers to see what they can tell us about occupation during the birthing period. 


Ringed Plover, Green Lawn, 22nd August 2020.Ringed Plover, Green Lawn, 22nd August 2020.


Saturday 15th August [Mainly wet]

I went down the hill at 0700 hrs today, but I was in my jogging kit for a 6 miler around the lake following footpaths and lanes. Mark and I met later and saw 2 Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus and 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on Tiny's Shallow, and at Top End there was an adult Turnstone Arenaria interpres, 2 adult Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula, 2 (adult and Juvenile) Redshank Tringa totanus, 2 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a Wigeon Mareca penelope. 


Friday 14th August [Muggy]

I had a text from Mark around midday to say there were 2 adult Common Terns Sterna hirundo in front of the Lodge on Tiny's Shallow. I went down to see them and we spent 3 hours checking the rest of the lake, but to be fair it was pretty quiet in terms of new migrants. I've noticed that Shovelers Spatula clypeata have been arriving in the last few days, but the only birds of note today were 2 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, plus 2 Great White Ardea alba and 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. Mark also saw 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam, and I counted 5 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Rugmoor.


Thursday 13th August [Muggy]

It felt like a Black Tern day today, but nobody told the terns, at least not while I was by the lake. I made two visits, late morning and evening, and to be honest, there's not a whole lot to tell... there were more joggers than notable birds! I saw 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and a Snipe Gallinago gallinago, plus both adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca.


Wednesday 12th August [Muy scorchio]

I walked to Top End early in the evening and saw 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca at Polish Water, a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos poking around the shoreline at Orchard Bay, 7 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus at Rugmoor Bay, and 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and a Greenshank Tringa nebularia at Top End from Rainbow Point. By the time I'd walked to the hide the waders were nowhere to be seen, just an innocent-looking Buzzard Buteo buteo standing on the bank nearby! There were just 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba present today.

I only had about 20 minutes in the hide before the first rumbles of thunder started. As I set off for home, the setting sun on the horizon looked like the Eye of Sauron as dark clouds built up, and the gathering storm behind me sounded like all the forces of Mordor hot on my heels! As I walked up the hill from the dam lightning was flashing every few seconds (I counted a maximum gap of 13 seconds) and the thunder overhead was continuous, but luckily there was no rain.


Tuesday 11 August [Scorchio]

Mark and I met at the lake this evening and had a good look around. Between us we saw 2 adult Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 2 Great white Egrets Ardea alba, 2 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, 3 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus, 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus and a Greenshank Tringa nebularia of note. I also spotted a Wigeon Mareca penelope at Rugmoor.

The hot weather has brought the swimmers, inflatable dinghy paddlers and walkers out in force again!


Monday 10th August [Hot & humid]

I was too busy to get to the lake before evening again today. I saw a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos fly onto the dam and counted 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba. I suspect any others will have flown off to Chew to roost by the time I arrived. I saw a Lapwing Vanellus vanellus on Holt Farm and heard others at the east end of the farm, and at Top End.


Sunday 9th August [Muggy]

During a quick visit at lunchtime, there was a Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge, and at Top End 2 Garganey Spatula querquedula again, undoubtedly the birds I saw on Wednesday. While driving back, I stopped to chat to Chris (?) and he pointed out some wagtails that were puzzling him on the shore at Rainbow Point. I told him they're a bit of a nightmare at this time of year but felt fairly sure that 3 were White Wagtails Motacilla alba alba. I went to get Keith Vinicombe's book out of my car which has a good page illustrating them. We went through the identifications carefully and concluded that they were indeed White's. So, thanks for pointing them out. I counted 8 Great White Ardea alba and 3 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta and saw two of the family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca. Duck numbers are building, as is usual at this time of year, and I went through the increasing flock of Tufted Ducks Aythya fuligula without out finding anything unusual and made a mental note to count Gadwall Mareca strepera next visit, because the WeBS count is towards the end of the month.


Saturday 8th August [Warm & humid]

I made an early morning visit and saw the family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca, 7 Great White Egrets Ardea alba, at least 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta, and the juvenile Garganey Spatula querquedula back at Top End. There was no sign of the Wood or Green Sandpipers, noted yesterday, that I could see.

In the evening, I met Mark and Ken at Litton, having parked and walked from East Harptree. I noted a pair of Spotted Flycatchers carrying food along the way. We saw two families of Tufted Duck with 4 and 5 juveniles respectively and heard a Green Sandpiper call at dusk. We checked a known Soprano Pipistrelle roost and looked for opportunities to photograph and video feeding Daubenton's Bats, of which there were lots over the water.


Friday 7th August [Hot & muggy]

Mark was on site at 0530 hrs this morning and I wasn't far behind him. We walked to Top End and back, birding as we went. There was an adult and juvenile Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam on arrival (the family was together again during the evening visit). As we walked along, we were able to count 9 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta scattered around the lake, but the best was saved to last. When in the hide, we saw 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus (3 in the evening) and a Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola that was present until dusk. I also had the good fortune to have a Garganey Spatula querquedula land right where I was scanning through the birds along the Burmah Road shore. As we walked back to our cars, we picked out a Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus in sub-song from one of the Willows at Holt Bay, and in the evening, I heard a Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus in sub-song at Home Bay as I went past. Mammal sightings included a Fox Vulpes vulpes carrying a Moorhen, a couple of Brown Hares Lepus europaeus and 3 young Rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus at the Lodge (a welcome sight; they used to be so tame and numerous there thirty years ago, they were considered part of the furniture!).


Thursday 6th August [Warm]

The nights are drawing in, and I'm afraid I left my visit too late to do any meaningful birding other than count the big white ones! To wit, there were 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta present. I also noted the family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca on the dam when I arrived.


Wednesday 5th August [Overcast]

I was at the lake just after 0730 hrs this morning hoping to see the Little Stint again in better light, but it had apparently moved on. The family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca were at Cheddar Water, and I counted 6 Great White Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. At Top End there was one, possibly two, Garganey Anas querquedula and 2 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus. In the evening, there was a Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus at Wookey Point to add to the earlier sightings.


 Egyptian Geese, adult & juvenile, 2nd August 2020.Egyptian Geese, adult & juvenile, 2nd August 2020.


Tuesday 4th August [Overcast]

A mid-morning visit saw 2 Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca at Cheddar Water, 3 adult Common Terns Sterna hirundo on Tiny's Shallow in front of the Lodge, 6 scattered Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 4 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta, a single Lapwing Vanellus vanellus at Long Bay, with another 6 at Top End where there was also a surprise juvenile (I think)) Garganey Spatula querquedula.

In the evening I found two waders on Tiny's in front of the Lodge, one was an adult Dunlin Calidris alpina that was asleep, and the other was a smaller bird that I took to be a stint sp. It was extremely mobile and elusive, and quite a long way away. Having seen it for a short period at around 1945 hrs, I lost sight of it for probably 30 minutes or so. Eventually it came back into view and, having consulted my field guides, I started to think it was probably an adult Little Stint in predominantly summer plumage, although the so-called 'tramlines' on its mantle were less than obvious and there was quite a lot of fine upper breast streaking when looked at from head-on. Time was marching on, and the light was poor, so I thought I'd ring Chris Craig as he lives the nearest and get him to come and look as well, for a second opinion. I had considered Sanderling, Little Stint and the more unlikely Semi-palmated Sandpiper and the very unlikely, Red-necked Stint, during my deliberations because the legs were clearly black rather than yellow. To cut a long story short Chris, Helena and Mya came down pretty quickly and were able to get some, poor by this time, views of the bird, sometimes alongside the Dunlin, and we agreed that it was a summer-plumage Little Stint Calidris minuta having discussed the possible alternatives.


Monday 3rd August [Mainly dry & sunny]

I was very late getting down to the lake this evening and after spotting 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos  on Tiny's Shallow, that took way too long to identify, the 'shank' (I think) that I saw at Top End had to remain unidentified. I only clocked 3 Great White Egrets Ardea alba too. Great Crested Grebes Podiceps cristatus have long been known to nest as late as July at Blagdon, and this evening I saw another sitting on a newly constructed platform that suggests it is just about to lay. I'll keep an eye on it, as well as two other nests that were constructed in July with birds sitting.


Sunday 2nd August [Early showers, drying up later with sunny spells.]

I arrived at the lake at 0730 hrs, just in time to meet Mark who was leaving, having arrived at around 0600 hrs. He had little to report, and by the time I went home at 0845 hrs, neither did I! Between us we saw 5 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and a Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Mark also reported 4 Lapwings Vanellus vanellus and a Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos that eluded me, and I saw the family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca.

In the evening Mark, Ken and I met up to check our two hibernation boxes to see how many Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus emerged. We had none in May, 89 & 58 on 21st June, 99 and 78 on 17th July, but this evening it was down to 14 & 0. As explained previously, we think the boxes are being used for maternity roosts and have data loggers inside them this summer. When they have both been vacated, perhaps we can retrieve them and have a look at the data collected, although we have to be mindful of the Covid-19 guidelines in place currently about working with and around bats.


Saturday 1st August [Sunny spells]

I was out of bed bright and early, full of hope for my morning visit to the lake, but to be honest it wasn't terribly exciting.  New in were 2 Green Sandpipers Tringa ochropus along the bank at Burmah Road, an adult Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis in front of the Lodge on Tiny's Shallow, and I counted 6 Great White Egrets Ardea alba and 5 Little Egrets Egretta garzetta. The family of Egyptian Geese Alopochen aegyptiaca flew onto Holt Farm. 

Ken, Mark and I had arranged to meet in Chew Stoke to do a bat emergence count this evening, so I decided to walk there via the lake for my evening visit. It was well worth it because I had an immature (2nd-calendar year perhaps) female Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus float past me at Holt Bay, giving superb views, and just before I got to the Top End hide I heard a Greenshank Tringa nebularia calling around the Flower Corner/ Bell's Bush bank area. I had hoped to see it on Wookey Point from the hide, but no such luck. Mark videoed 37 Soprano Pipistrelles Pipistrellus pygmaeus out of the small bat roost, but we discovered that there may be another one in another part of the building that we need to check as well. 

Nigel Milbourne © 2009-24. All Rights Reserved.